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    Saline shortages: A 3-step action plan

    Hospital pharmacists are on the frontline of intravenous (IV) saline shortages and need to prepare an action plan to ensure patient safety.

    IV saline is one of the most commonly used drugs in a hospital. Millions of units of IV saline are used each week for hydrating patients, during dialysis treatment, in providing emergency care and surgery, so making a shortfall in supply particularly challenging to navigate.

    In a recent survey conducted by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) 76% of hospitals reported being affected by the IV saline shortage. Of respondents reporting a shortage, 29% showed that their supplies are not adequate to meet patient need. Pharmacists and other healthcare professionals have responded by using alternatives, switching doses, prioritizing patient care, and in some cases, delaying treatment.

    “Until manufacturing can be more fully ramped up, manufacturers have responded by rationing IV saline, with hospitals and other healthcare facilities receiving IV saline supplies based on order history rather than on current need,” said Marvin Finnefrock, PharmD, divisional vice president of clinical and purchasing services at Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS), a pharmacy management services provider.

     

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